Young Europeans `responsible and concerned'

Britons accept smacking, Germans do not mind pornography, Italians are the most attractive. David Lister reports
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Young adults across Europe are worried about Aids, unemployment and the environment. But they ease their minds by spending seven hours a day watching television, listening to radio and playing their own music, a new survey has found.

The survey of 3,000 young adults from nine European countries, including the United Kingdom, shows that young Europeans see themselves as responsible and hard working and believe having an enjoyable job is twice as important as having a job that pays a lot of money.

There are differences between nationalities, not least in their attitudes towards a united Europe. Overall, 65 per cent were in favour of the concept. In Italy, 90 per cent were in favour, but in Britain and Sweden only 43 per cent were.

Britain stands alone on one issue - the smacking of children. Fifty eight per cent of those interviewed in the UK found this an acceptable practice, but in nearly every other country fewer than 10 per cent approved.

Italy scored highest on style and looks. Overall, 32 per cent of Europeans thought Italy had the most attractive men, and 22 per cent thought it had the most attractive women, giving it top place in both categories. Germany was judged bottom in both, nominated by only 4 per cent; 8 per cent thought the UK had the most attractive males and 6 per cent thought it had the most attractive females.

The study, which consisted of 45-minute interviews of 3,000 people, was commissioned by MTV, the satellite youth music channel, and carried out by the American research company Yankelovich Partners Inc.

It suffers from having an extraordinarily wide age range in its sample: from 16 to 34, even though 16-years-olds do not consider themselves part of the same generation as 34-year-olds. Indeed, the latter could include their parents.

Nevertheless, the survey does highlight some interesting national differences. Asked whether extramarital affairs are acceptable, 46 per cent of Germans said they were. Every other country had a much lower figure, with 20 per cent of young Britons approving.

Again, 52 per cent of Germans approved of pornography, along with just over 50 per cent of Spanish, Swedish and those in the Benelux countries, but only 27 per cent of Britons.

Ninety per cent put Aids as a prime concern, 88 per cent unemployment and 91 per cent the environment. Significantly, 91 per cent in Britain listed crime as a major concern, while in France only 58 per cent were concerned about it. In Britain, 90 per cent were worried about rape, 55 per cent in France, 76 per cent in Germany and 65 per cent in Belgium.

In some areas, the British were less tolerant than other Europeans. The UK had the lowest percentage (59 per cent) who found homosexuality acceptable, a figure equal to Spain but far lower than every other country. And, while 88 per cent of Britons approved of sex before marriage, that was 7 per cent lower than any other country. Even the figure of 78 per cent approving women's right to have abortions was lower than all the other non-Catholic countries: only Spain, with 61 per cent, and Italy at 60 per cent were lower.

For leisure and at weekends, 67 per cent spent time with their family, 57 per cent listen to music, 43 per cent going to a club, bar or caf, while 40 per cent play sport. Music listened to was mostly from the United States (39 per cent); 20 per cent listened to music from their own country and 28 per cent that from Britain.

Overall, 83 per cent felt it important to be comfortable with new technology; 38 per cent read a national paper every day, 67 per cent thought a college or university education was important.

The young people said they usually found out about style and fashion from friends (51 per cent), but also from magazines and television (45 per cent), with only 35 per cent from shops.

Asked their views about their own and other countries, the stereotypes remained strong. The UK was seen as having good music, television programmes and sense of humour. Belgium was boring but had good beer, Sweden had good environmental and social policies and France had good food, wine and fashion.